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Callaloo and Diabetes

Posted on April 15, 2021 | No Comments on Callaloo and Diabetes

Every Filipino should be familiar with laing, that leafy, creamy, spicy delicacy from Bicol Region that burns the delighted palates of every discerning foodie. But did you know that laing may have a hand in helping prevent diabetes? That’s because of one of its ingredients – the taro or gabi leaf, also known as callaloo.

Callaloo, or the variant we know as taro, is believed to have originated from Southeast Asia, and is mostly grown in tropical countries. Its leaves, flowers, and edible root (a starch vegetable) are staples in these places, and are thus used as ingredients in various cuisines.

Incidentally, there is also a dish popular in West Africa simply called callaloo. This Carribean dish is generally made with green vegetables such as taro, amaranth, or xanthosoma. Other ingredients include coconut milk, crab, conch, Caribbean lobster meats, pumpkin, chili peppers, and other seasonings such as chopped onions and garlic. It’s quite similar to our own laing.

So how does callaloo help in preventing diabetes?
The callaloo leaf is a non-starchy vegetable, which makes it ideal for diabetics. Remember that food for diabetics should be low in sugar, high in fiber, low in simple carbohydrates, contain a low glycemic index, high in good fats, low in saturated and trans- fats, and lean proteins.

Callaloo is rich in vitamins and minerals, and has high antioxidant properties. One key component of callaloo is magnesium, which improves blood circulation and normalizes blood sugar levels. Another is Vitamin K, which also helps prevent diabetes.

While not necessarily mixed in laing or callaloo, taro corms (stems) are very high in starch, and are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and manganese. Dietary fiber is an important part of a diabetic’s diet.

It is also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. It also has vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Be warned, though, that callaloo should be cooked properly, and should not be eaten raw at all. That’s because of its poisonous content, oxalic acid, which is present in the corm and the leaf. Hence, callaloo should be avoided or eaten in moderation by people with kidney disorders, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Callaloo (the vegetable and the Carribean dish, and by extension, laing) is considered healthy food. But at the end of the day, proper diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle plays a major part in controlling diabetes, so that they could enjoy life without skipping good stuff to eat.

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